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Ultrasound of the normal canine supraspinatus tendon: comparison with gross anatomy and histology
  1. Caroline Chloe Lassaigne1,
  2. Charlotte Boyer2,
  3. Lucile Sautier2 and
  4. Olivier Taeymans3
  1. 1 Diagnostic Imaging, UCD, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2 Biopôle, Unité d’Histologie, d’Embryologie et d’Anatomie pathologique, Ecole Nationale Veterinaire d'Alfort, Maisons-Alfort, Île-de-France, France
  3. 3 Diagnostic Imaging, Dick White Referrals, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Caroline Chloe Lassaigne, Diagnostic imaging, UCD, Dublin 4, Ireland; classaigne84{at}


Background This study aimed to compare the ultrasonographic and histological features of the supraspinatus tendon (ST) and its peculiar appearance in contrast with the biceps brachii tendon.

Methods For this purpose, 19 non-lame dog cadavers were subjected to an ultrasonographic and histologic evaluation of both shoulders after postmortem examination.

Results Close to their insertion on the greater tubercle, all STs displayed a widened portion with a deep central hypoechoic area lacking a fibrillar pattern, when compared with its more proximal aspect and adjacent biceps brachii. Histologically this deep portion corresponded to poorly organised collagen bundles interspersed within a myxoid substance mainly composed of mucopolysaccharides. This central myxoid area with collagen disarray was responsible for the reduced echogenicity on ultrasound.

Conclusion The focal widening of the ST insertion and its central mucopolysaccharidic composition could be an anatomical adaptation to marked forces specifically applied to this tendon. However, the ultrasound and histological appearances are very similar to those described in tendinosis, which represents a confounding factor in diagnosing tendonitis at the insertion of the supraspinatus. In the absence of other ultrasonographic criteria of tendinopathy, a hypoechoic central area in the ST near its insertion should be considered normal.

  • ultrasonography
  • musculoskeletal
  • diagnostic imaging
  • dogs
  • histopathology
  • tendon pathophysiology

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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